The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday ordered airlines and airports to ensure that passengers wear masks at all stages of their journey. Those who fail to comply with the order could be de-boarded from a plane or barred from flying for a minimum of three months. “We will also start carrying out checks at airports,” Arun Kumar, Director-General, DGCA, told The Hindu.
“Airlines shall ensure that all passengers wear face masks properly and continue to wear them throughout the journey. The masks can be removed under exceptional circumstances and for permitted reasons only,” the order said.
Delhi High Court order
The directive from the DGCA follows a Delhi High Court order last week in which the court expressed concerns that COVID-19 norms were not being implemented seriously on the ground and instructed the regulator to issue “separate binding instructions” to ensure strict action against passengers who violate masking and hygiene norms.
Airlines will also have to make regular announcements on COVID-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks and hand hygiene. Those who fail to adhere to these norms could be de-boarded from flights or treated as “unruly passengers” who are liable to be banned from flying for a minimum of three months.
The DGCA issued a similar order in March last year, but between March and April this year several States removed the mask mandate, creating confusion among travellers. While initially airports and airlines were also required to ensure social distancing, this requirement has been dispensed with, a government official confirmed.
The Directorate has also instructed airports to ensure surveillance.Those who disobey could face fines as per the laws in the State and could also be handed over to the security agencies.